There are few big cities that can boast the vibrant buffet scene that Dubai can. As a native New Yorker, I can assure you that in the Big Apple, there is no such thing as a buffet restaurant. My British colleagues tell me that the concept is equally anathema in London. But Dubai is very much a hotel culture, and what’s hotel dining without a buffet?

Every time I think there’s no room or reason for another buffet restaurant in town, I’m presented with the announcement that another has just opened. Channels is the newest member of the pack, and compared to some of its expansive brethren, its selection of food is quite limited. While the likes of Spice Market may have entire wings devoted to shell fish or cold cuts, Channels has two modest rows of food, including a carving station, salads and desserts. There are no chocolate fountains, waffle makers, ice cream-filled coolers, or any other excess that buffet aficionados supposedly go in for. However, it is the modesty of Channels’ spread that gives it some character. Other buffets always feel excessive, Channels merely feels selective.

While the food can’t compare to some of the better à la carte deals in town (the neighbouring Prego’s is infinitely better), the fare’s pretty good for the price. The carving station offers up tender pink rounds of roast beef armoured in a crackly onion exterior. Salmon, slightly dry and fishy, is your standard catered grub. The accoutrements, however, are somewhat lacking (there’s Yorkshire pudding, sautéed mixed vegetables and Lyonnaise potatoes. Outside of that, you’re left decorating your roast with vegetable curry).

It’s worth skipping the salads to make room for dessert. Mini mango tarts are sweet, delicate, and easy to consume in disconcerting quantities. The different flavoured panna cottas were impressive here; the pastry chef had clearly taken care with his ingredients, as the mousses were rich and intricate.

While I still don’t understand the point of Channels (why dine at an all-day buffet when you can have really choice Italian food next door?), I will say that they present a relaxed (if Spartan) backdrop to a better-than-mediocre meal.

The bill (for two)
1x Large bottle of water Dhs22
2x Dinner buffets Dhs230
Total Dhs252